Locally-Owned in Oakdale and St. Paul, Minnesota

Compost, Garbage, and Mold! Oh My!

If you witnessed or strongly suspect your pet was exposed to tremorgenic mycotoxins or anything else found in the garbage or compost pile, this is considered an “ORANGE” – or urgent case – on our Fast Track Triage system. We recommend calling ASPCA Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 for help determining if your pet consumed a toxic amount and for guidance on what to do next. If veterinary care is advised, call your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital ahead of your arrival.

Most of us know a dog who will get into the garbage when he or she is left unattended—whether it’s our own pet, or that of a friend. For many pet owners, garbage-cruising dogs are a fairly common occurrence. But did you know that this common phenomenon can actually be fatally dangerous to your dog? We’re not just talking about eating chicken or meat bones that could become stuck in your dog’s intestines; no, this organism sure seems a lot more harmless that a sharp bone, yet it can be life-threatening. What can sometimes be found in your garbage that can kill your dog? Mold.

Moldy dairy products such as cheese, moldy nuts such as walnuts or peanuts, moldy grains, and pastas often cause stomach upset, including vomiting and diarrhea. The molds that grow on old foods in your refrigerator, garbage, or compost pile have a toxic effect on your pet’s nervous system. Upon eating this mold, your dog may have muscle tremors, seizures or even act like he’s drunk—having difficulty standing or walking. If the mold exposure is severe enough, your dog can die.

If you suspect that your pet has gotten into a compost pile or moldy trash, please visit a vet right away. The veterinarian may choose to make your pet vomit. At AERC, we never recommend inducing vomiting at home because of the potential risk of the pet inhaling the vomit into his or her lungs. Your pet may also need activated charcoal to absorb toxins left in the stomach.
Preventing mold toxicity is a matter of vigilance. Always use sturdy garbage cans with a lid, and if your dog is a persistent garbage-eater, make sure the garbage can is not accessible (in a cabinet or pantry with a door.) If you clean the fridge and remove some moldy food, it’s best to take it directly to your outdoor garbage can and avoid the risk entirely. Make sure compost containers are secure and out of reach of pets.

Heidi Brenegan, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, Fast Track Triage, color-coded triage system, pet emergency, Twin Cities emergency vet, Minnesota emergency vet, Saint Paul emergency vet, Oakdale emergency vet


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